Let’s keep hope alive

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I have not written on my blog in a very long time. I just couldn’t. Not that I couldn’t find sufficient issues to write about but instead I felt as though I couldn’t sufficiently communicate the pain I was feeling in my heart for humanity’s current state. Time after time, news reports confirmed the fact that we seem to have lost our basic humanity and our ability to feel compassion to others.

Waves of despair presented themselves through reports which came relentlessly: one violent or oppressive act after the other often ending with someone’s life being taken away senselessly. I found myself needing to cope with the increasing violence against persons of my own ilk – of African descent, immigrant, black/ brown, female, Christian, working class among other relatable descriptors. It became too painful to read, watch and listen to reports of people being murdered without justifiable cause, of women’s rights being taken away, of our vaginas becoming fodder for gossip and being up for grabs to whom-ever wants to do, well, just that.

My faith was and still is being tried when I read of the many injustices that take place daily to the point where some of us seem to have become numb to their existence. It’s become such a regular occurrence that some people shrug and say “That’s just the way it is” because they too just can’t find the words to express their horror. I’ve listened to voice notes of women pleading for their lives from serial rapists and murderers on social media, all the while scrolling through news of a spouse murdering his wife and children because he wanted to get back at her. There are increased incidences of cyber bulling amongst adults, and  most recently of persons being encouraged to commit suicide (see the recent incidents of live suicides of Facebook).

Seriously, I couldn’t deal. It became too much and I had to step away and regroup. I needed to centre myself in the midst of this chaos that seemed to have taken over the world, my world. So I shut it all out, for a while so I could gather myself and steady my footing as I sought to navigate and understand this new paradigm.

What has happened to us? Why can’t we recognize that we have so much more in common than we are different? We are one human race, sharing a planet that we have done our best to destroy with our careless use of its resources. If we took the time out to listen in love to each other, simple though it seems, we could arrive at solutions that are mutually beneficial to us. I am not so foolish that I cannot recognize that its way more complicated than that and thus it would take time. But every worthwhile effort begins with a first step, and I know that we (all of us humans) are worth saving and so a step, whatever it is, is worth taking. The sad fact is however, is that we seem to be without a natural ability or inclination to love each other. We have placed a selfish love of ourselves and the ‘things’ we have and think we need, above all and everyone else.

What a world we live in.

But I dare to imagine that it can and will be better. I dare to imagine gender rights, religious and political freedoms. I dare to imagine leaders of countries, while seeking to protect the rights and welfare of their citizens, actively and judiciously, do so without trampling on the rights of others. I dare to imagine us engaging each other, acknowledging the wrongs we have all perpetuated against each other and seek ways to fix it. I dare to imagine that families and communities can return to or begin to take care of each other and move away from this individualistic, selfish mode of existence. Though my faith in us is terribly challenged, it hasn’t died. Once there’s life, there’s hope.

Let’s keep hope alive.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Audacity of Authenticity

Audacity
noun
 a willingness to take bold risks.
Synonyms: boldness, daring, fearlessness, intrepidity, bravery, courage,courageousness, valour, valorousness, heroism, pluck, recklessness.

 

Authenticity
ɔːθɛnˈtɪsɪti/
noun
The quality of being authentic.
synonyms: genuineness, originality.

In a world where people are challenged to present the ‘best version of themselves’, to be who and what they believe others are looking for, its often hard to determine who is being/keeping it ‘real’ or not. “Just be yourself!” is a phrase we hear all the time, assuming that what you see is not what actually is.

Unfortunately, it too often the case that what you see is not their authentic self.

I wrote in my bio for WordPress that I am on a journey towards authenticity (paraphrased) because I have come to realize that I have been, for the most part, playing a role that has been predetermined for me. The Caribbean/ Jamaican woman, 6th born of seven, to a nuclear family of modest means; a Caribbean woman of African descent with a few Europeans within her bloodline. A female child  born to a long line of strong  Walker – Cox women who ruled their households as the men were ‘weak’ and often promiscuous. The role of the dutiful, youngest daughter, who is ‘bright and promising’ was thrust upon me. It was one I was glad to take on as it afforded me the attention I craved in a household that was perpetually noisy, busy and purposeful. I became, as a part of Caribbean heritage, the woman who is Christian and spiritual, wise and experienced; the good, loyal daughter, sister and friend,  who takes care of those dear to her.

These are just a few of the labels that I’ve been assigned. Some have become truth as I have grown into the personality and character that these roles have afforded me; there are others (not listed here) that I’ve tried my best to live up to. Or not.

It’s been hard. Living by the terms that society, your family, that culture and circumstances has determined are yours, sometimes causes an internal conflict as they are in direct opposition of how you define and see yourself. It places you into the confines of a box, labelled according to the expectations of others, and the sociology of your people. Though you may have developed your identity and personal philosophies, there are some fundamental truths that belie that which informs  and defines your ‘you’.

When you are told ‘Just be yourself!’, what is being asked of you? Are you being told to air your innermost thoughts, act out all that you have thought of doing secretly, though it may shock and dismay others? Is it to put on display all of your strengths and your weakness, your desires, angsts, victories, failures, certainties and uncertainties, to place them out there for all and sundry to see? Would they or you be able to handle it?

If we were to let it all out, warts and all, that would take a level of audacity.

Being yourself, all of yourself, takes courage. Not all of us are able to face ourselves, who we truly are. Sometimes our truth slips out and we mentally look around to see if anyone caught a glimpse of it. One may argue, and say that they are what/who you see, all of it. But I beg to differ. We all wear masks, hide behind the labels we have allowed to be placed on ourselves, behind expectations and socialized norms and codes of conduct in order to be accepted and not be labelled deviant. We prefer to not rock the boat because the consequences may be too great. We don’t want to be ostracized and be put, literally or figuratively, ‘into a corner’.

But I wager, we lose a part of us when we don’t use it. There are sacrifices to be made in the name of self preservation but what of the eventual consequences to you or me when we deny who we are? Can one be satisfied to live as a shadow of themselves, of their truth? I understand the dictates of society, but I struggle with being starved of the inherent freedoms all were given at birth.

Yes, I am female, born into a particular family, at a particular time in history, to a country and culture. That in itself means so much and at once comes with many expectations and responsibilities. But we each have a responsibility to ourselves first.

There comes a time when we all have to break loose. The so called contentment we have found through living as a mere reflection of our truth can only last so long. So many have lost sight of who they are a long time ago, and will have a difficult journey back to their truth. It has been buried, hidden, layered upon for many years; peeling it all away will take some doing. But it can be done, one just has to be willing.

You are who you are. Whether or not anyone else truly knows you is beside the point. The important question is, who are you? Do you know?

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Five Second Rule

Carpe-Diem.-Robin-Williams.-Dead-poets-society.-e1408375963379

A couple of times in the last few days, I’ve gotten some pretty cool topics to write about on this blog. However, I got distracted every single time. I have an assignment. Oh, I must read these chapters NOW. Papers to grade. And the best one, “I’m going to sleep for a bit and then get up and work”. Guess what time I woke up? Next morning (of course).

Just like me perhaps you have experienced those times when something good comes your way and suddenly you hesitate. These are what I call  “Pause and Kill it” moments. An opportunity presents itself, a great idea pops into your head, an introspective thought that could propel you into a new and better place, a plethora of things but somehow you take a pause and stop. And forget. Or get passed over. And the moment or opportunity gets lost, oftentimes, forever.

It has happened to me a few times. And it sucks.

Snooze and you lose. Yes.

There is something in us, (I don’t know what it is), that causes us to pause when we are on the brink of a breakthrough. Perhaps it is self-sabotage, but it could be just a survival instinct that prevents us from moving into the unknown, even if its simply jotting down an idea that could open the door to great things.

So how do you get beyond this tendency to ‘pause and kill it’?

We all know the phrase Carpe Diem – seize the day or in this case, the moment. And it is simply that. We have to get up and go do whatever it is that calls us the moment it does. If it’s a creative thought, write it down if you can’t do it immediately (for these things sometimes involve a process); engage in that process that will cause you to move towards that which has been calling you, waiting for you. This doesn’t guarantee success, but you surely will be better for the experience because now you know. It could be that audition, or that important phone call or the desire to write the first few paragraphs of that novel you have been thinking about; maybe it’s that the melody for a song that has been echoing in your mind – whatever that thing is, you will never know what could have been unless you get moving.

Not knowing is worse than trying and failing. You’ll always be wondering ‘What if’, and that can cause us to become stuck. Stuck in a moment that has passed, or has died. For with the pause comes death of the dream. You may think that you paused for just this time, made an excuse just this once but then it becomes a habit. You keep putting it off for one reason or another until it’s forgotten, swept away with the tide of complacency and normality.

Here is what you should do: each time the opportunity presents itself for you do something that will propel you to a new and better place, move in the first five seconds or so. Once that time passes, you will have lost the moment. You could try, but it’s hard to get it back and it certainly won’t be as good as the first. In that moment, the universe is perfectly aligned to receive from you in exactly this way.

Right now is always a great time to move, to do SOMETHING. What are you waiting for? Go on, grab a hold of your destiny. The world awaits you.

 

 

Forgiveness breaks the chain

freedom-through-forgiveness

There are some days when I find it so hard to forgive. Recently, I have found myself being miserable, feeling burdened and tired. A quick survey of my last few months led me to believe that I was being drained by the negative emotions I had brewing inside.

Gasp! ME?! But I am NOT like THAT!

But here it is: Someone wronged me (or so I believed); an incident that I was already feeling sensitive about was broadcasted to others and I was embarrassed and angry. Angry with myself for doing that stupid thing and angry at her for not only being aware of it BUT for telling others! Oh the shame! When you are competitive, self conscious and somewhat insecure, incidents such as these catapult you into a downward spiral of harboured anger and resentment, which can quickly become something physical.

As it so happens, I was put on blast. It was highlighted, quite publicly that I was harbouring resentment and that it was stifling me, pretty much.  Imagine, I was already sensitive about it and now others KNEW how I truly felt! Surprisingly, it was okay with me because I was fed up with how it made me feel. Chained, stifled, heavy, miserable, disgruntled (ALL THE TIME!) and most of all, unhappy.

I am typically a happy, cool, relaxed girl. I had made it my mission, early in life, to let go of things quickly because life was just too short. I have found however, sometimes it’s hard to let go and forgive. Mostly, in those times when you feel wronged and justified in your hurt. You want to lash out and you feel like forgiving is letting ‘them get away with it’. And it’s not as though you don’t want to; but somehow the thought of it won’t let go.

So what to do? I’ve come to know this truth: Forgiveness is tied to blessing and total well-being. You physically harm yourself when you choose not to forgive. Not only is that true, but you are tied to someone who most likely have already forgotten about the incident while you are still fuming inside and harming yourself! A close friend said it best about a year ago: “I don’t know why some people do not choose to be better instead of bitter”. Ouch. She couldn’t have known I would be struggling with that right now.

It’s a matter of choice: you can keep the feeling and stay mad all the time or choose to let go and live.

So today, right now, in this moment, I am choosing better. I don’t like that feeling and I enjoy being happy and free too much. “Whom the Lord has set free is free indeed” (John 8:36). Make the choice to allow no negative incident/experience to limit your freedom- choose to break the chains. As Bob Marley said “Emancipate yourself from mental slavery; none but ourselves can free our minds”. Emotions ties us to the experience and the individual, and we become slaves to a feeling. Enslavement of any kind, first begins in the mind. It is also where freedom begins. The healing starts when we decide to renew our mind and spirit, and take that step towards our inner peace. At some point or the other, we will be wronged or we will wrong another. We will have to decide to forgive, seek forgiveness and also release ourselves from the mistake that we made.  An important part of the transaction is forgiving yourself.  That is something that we sometimes forget to do.

Remember – the shoe will be on the other foot someday. As we say in Jamaica “Today fi you, tomorrow fi me” (today you go through and tomorrow, it’s my turn). Forgive because you too will need forgiveness.  If you want to be selfish – do it for yourself. It’s the only way you will have freedom and peace of mind.

 

When Friendship Dies

How do you let go when friendship dies?

Today, I got a wake-up call that a friendship has died. Even as I write, I hesitate to say that it has. We have shared so much and the thought of how much I grew under the sun of this friendship, makes me want to hang on to it.

I feel guilty because I feel as though I contributed to its demise. There was a time, even with the others in my very small circle, that she and I found time to engage in discourse about particular topics of interest to us. We were always there to encourage each other or to reinforce some important beliefs. For me, she was right for the part of the journey that I was growing through and things had were just perfect between us.

Then life happened: I started studying again, and one day led to several days and then weeks and months of not engaging as we had. I wanted to but I guess the desire was not as great as the need for sleep, completing research papers and performing my many and varied job functions that had me sacrificing meals and plotting when next I could get some sleep. I was just too tired. I still am.

We see each other often but I know our connection is no longer there. At least, not as strong as it used to be. Today, when I stopped to greet her and received a less than pleasant greeting, it hit me. The time has come to move on and let go. I have been feeling it for some time now. I have not felt ready to accept it but the encounter had me thinking about something I read years ago: People fit into either of three categories in your life – people are here for a reason, season or lifetime. I’ll treasure the lessons we have shared but its time to move on.

Friendships,many relationships, are often like that. The key is learning when, what and how to let go. Sometimes we get sentimental because of our shared past and we feel obligated to maintain it. Perhaps we need to recognize and accept that perhaps we were/are here for a particular phase of the journey, to be whatever is required of us to each other, in the boundaries of the relationship. It could be that you/we are meant to be in another’s life for a lifetime, for however long a lifetime is. What we need to do, is be willing: to let go when the time comes, to accept it for what it is, and to define its role in your/our life.

Does it mean you will stop communicating? Perhaps, yes. It may be instead you have an occasional really good conversation, a night out and that’s all you’re meant to. Or perhaps, this is it and you just need to wish each other well and get on with living. Understand that every relationship transitions, morphs, changes.

Even when you are as sentimental as I am, when the time comes, accept reality. Keep the memories, enjoy what was but look towards the future.

It’s waiting there for you.

 

 

 

 

Incomplete

As much as we want to divorce ourselves from our collective history, there is no denying or escaping its impact on our lives.

I often read or hear of individuals who, upon becoming adults, liberated themselves so to speak, from their families. They want absolutely nothing to do with them. I used the term liberate, because from what I have gathered, there seemed to be a sort of imprisonment, where the individual was being stifled and needed room to breathe and grow.

On occasions, I too have felt that need.

In households where there has been decades or generations of struggle, secrets, discontent, a culture of poverty and a deficit in vision, there is often a child or two born into the group who ends up being viewed as an oddity or an anomaly. You’re different, so much so that you stand out in every way possible that one can imagine. There was a point that I even wondered if I was wrongfully placed into my family. My views and visions were so divergent, that I despaired of life itself. I felt like the piece of a puzzle that the manufacturer mistakenly placed in the wrong box.

How time changes one’s perspective. After years of desiring to get away, I only want to be with them. Adulthood has shown me just how alike we are. We may express ourselves differently but we all want the same things. Conversations across dinner tables and family gatherings at Christmas (that gets my anxiety level up to a pitch after a few days of being inundated with their company) has revealed a common perspective and set of experiences. There is an undeniable love and respect, one that requires us to speak to each other, all seven of us (two males, five girls), every single day, even for a brief moment (thank goodness for technology  or ours phone bills would be astronomical!).

We are more alike than I thought. I can’t survive without them.

I know much more about myself to admit that despite our connection, I still need my space. I cannot deal with all of our personalities, all at once. I have to take them installments. One of the males is my twin, and whenever we don’t get to speak to each other for extended periods (life happens), I miss him with a pain that is so deep that it becomes physical. I often find myself yearning for their company.

I appreciate them. It is the experience of being a part of this family that has shaped the woman I am today. Pity, growing up I couldn’t appreciate it or them. But thank goodness for the eventuality of a mature mind. It has shown me how incomplete I would be without them.

 

Double the success…

 

Oops-77709

“For you must have double the failures to have double the success”

Just a few hours ago, someone said this in a speech to group of retired educators, their families and friends, at a function in their honour. He could not have known the MANY mistakes that I made in attempting to organize this function and the tears and frustration that accompanied it.

It’s hard to appreciate these sentiments when you are 1. a perfectionist, and 2. someone who likes control.

We humans, are our worst critic. I chuckle at the thought, because I know it to be true. I don’t think that anyone berates us as hard as we do when we make mistakes. Perhaps its imagining the criticism that makes us so hard on ourselves, as we imagine others taking our mistakes apart and wondering “How could he/she make such an error?”.

But there is that word: error or mistake. As much as I hate making them, I’ve come to realize that they are teaching tools, moments in our lives when we are afforded an opportunity to learn something new about ourselves and of those around us. These are occasions that we may term ‘on the job experience’, as we navigate the varied experiences of life, that we have to work through.

You have to go through to grow through – if you never made a mistake in your life it means that either a) you are blind to your own mistakes and your Johari Window needs to be opened up, b)people are afraid of you ( because life always presents someone ready, willing and able to quickly and clearly point out your mistakes) and are talking behind you back or c) you have made mistakes but refuse to acknowledge them. Neither of these scenarios are acceptable for it would mean that our development has been arrested – we are not experiencing growth in key areas of our lives.

As one who has had a few doozies throughout my life, here is my advice:

Mistakes will happen. There is no way to avoid them. Accept them as a foundation for success.

Don’t take yourself or it too seriously.  In Jamaica we say ” If it no tek life and cause death, it no serious (if it doesn’t threaten yours or anyone’s  life or causes death, it’s not that serious). And that is true. Mistakes tend to cause us some periods of emotional and psychological discomfort but that’s how it is. Does this mean you are to be nonchalant? Absolutely not. For some errors do have serious consequences. For those that do have serious consequences, identify solutions, apply them quickly so you can move on to the next experience. The thing to do is learn from it and move on. Don’t allow them to become what defines you.

Learn from it and move on. Quickly.  This part needs no explanation. We already know that dwelling on it only makes it seem worse than it probably is. So if you can, put it behind you as quickly as possible (hopefully those concerned will allow you to).

If you can, don’t make mistakes that you will live to regret. This means that you will have to take care to examine choices before making a decision, if time allows. And time always allows. It doesn’t necessarily mean days, hours or weeks. Just take a moment to breathe and think. Otherwise, it means that you are acting impulsively.

Ah, if only I had taken this advice myself not long ago. But then again, I would not have learnt.

Teachable moments. Such is life.

 

The Best is yet to come

“Hold on my brother don’t give up
Hold on my sister just look up
There is a master plan in store for you
If you just make it through
God’s gonna really blow your mind
He’s gonna make it worth your time
For all of the trouble you’ve been through
The blessing’s double just for you”

Donald Lawrence and Tri-city Singers: The Best is yet to come

This song has been on my mind for the last few weeks, and it won’t let go. Perhaps it’s because I’ve been reviewing my life and that of some persons dear to me. This examination has led me to a few conclusions about life’s circumstances and the varied experiences we have throughout our journey.

Life tries you. The moment you are about to relax and begin to enjoy your experiences, something comes your way and you seem to be fighting again. It’s as though you are never really totally able to just let go. You have “Seek peace and pursue it” (Psalm 34:14) in every sense of the word.

I was fortunate to be a part of a seminar on creative writing lectured on by Colin Channer, an esteemed Jamaican author. I asked him why is it that so many horrible things tend to happen to characters. His response was that ‘Art imitates life and the book would be boring if the characters were not challenged!’. I guess it’s the same way we ought to view life – without challenges, it would be boring indeed (Though I’m sure some of us wouldn’t mind a little boredom now and then!). It’s an undulating road, full of highs, lows and the in-betweens (those times when things are steady and are not bad or good, just okay).

In searching for more concretised answers, I read a number of books (Self help and mostly the Christian Holy Bible) and pondered the lives of those around me. Every single one, while using a variety of expressions and situations, pointed me to one salient conclusion: each test and trial was actually preparing them for something better, whatever that something turned out to be. This conclusion was most times arrived at in retrospect.

Little comfort, it would seem, for those who likes their answers NOW. But I recognize, and certainly others will admit, that we really would be struggling against the tide, like the salmon, if we choose not to accept this fact. And most of us do not have the muscles nor the gumption for it. Challenges, though extremely difficult at times, are part and parcel of being alive and serves a purpose. Imagine the opposite – not being alive – and I’m sure we all prefer to face it! In choosing to acknowledge this, we win, because its certainly less exhausting. Instead, we can focus our energy at finding solutions and navigating the plain as best we can, with minimum casualties.

Are we in charge of this ‘Master Plan’ that some persons postulate has been charted for our lives? It really depends on who you ask. The fact is, whether you believe in a supreme being or not, we all have to make decisions that will ultimately direct our path. The thing is to make the choices that will garner the best results for you and yours, because sitting on your hands (so to speak) and living by default can only make things harder.

If you are a logical thinker, you do know that every decision, leads to another decision and a particular set of results. Sometimes we may find ourselves in choppy waters (difficult situations). This may be because these circumstances and situations are dependent on or significantly influenced by others. Even so, it is our reaction and how we choose to view or manage the experience that will ultimately decide if it becomes positive or negative.

We ought to choose to see and hope for the best. The bible highlights for us the merits of faith in difficult situations. Hebrews 11 (the entire chapter) outlines a number of experiences that various characters had and how things turned out for them. If you are not a Christian, examine biographies of persons who became successful despite the extremes that life threw their way.

We have to stand up to the weight of life’s challenges and build the muscles we need for the rest of the journey. It’s either that, or waste away in despair. See it as something exciting that is preparing you for a great reward that you will savour in the end.

Though it tarries, work, watch and wait for it. The best is yet to come.

Stay the course…

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A few months ago, I was taken by surprise when I found out that two childhood friends were getting married. I was overcome with happiness for them and expressed my joy by praising God.

I thought about our early days in primary and high schools, and of the twists and turns our lives took. Some of the turns were rough, really rough. For me, there were times that I personally gave up. More than once, I thought it best if I never existed. I just couldn’t take it anymore.

But then, I took a breath. And another breath. And another. And things, though still trying and troubling, didn’t feel as badly as it did. I made plans and started working towards them. As I did, I came upon stumbling blocks, fell down mountain sides, broke my heart, had my heart broken. My body was broken. And for a while, my spirit felt broken too.

I was crying tears through the night, until they pooled in my ears. Through many smiles and loud laughter, I sometimes felt very alone because I felt I couldn’t share what I was going through. No one would understand, even though if I told them, they’d say they did. So I put on a face and pressed on. Sometimes, when you are caught up in your world of pain, you feel so isolated.

Despite this, something deep inside me, compelled me to go on. Though I was challenged, I knew giving up was not an option. This is something I’ve come to know about myself, a statement I’ve quietly whispered through tearful prayers over recent years: It’s hard, but I have no idea on how to quit. It’s not in me to give up.  And it’s not that I haven’t truly wanted to. There are those days when the burdens are too much to bear and it manifests as a heaviness that saps my strength.

It was in those moments, that God said, “My child, my strength is made perfect in your weakness”. Letting go and surrendering control is difficult for me. But I’ve had to just let go and let God. And so I laid down, physically when strength failed me,  and I was spiritually drained. I became quiet and withdrew so I could take sustenance from my source.

It is during these times that I able to see my way.  When I became still, and stopped trying to solve every single thing or explain and understand it all,  I came to recognize there ARE going to be those occasions  and experiences for which there are no logical explanations. This understanding didn’t come overnight but revealed itself as time progressed and I matured experiencially.   Sometimes being still was hard but because I know for sure that this power holds my future, I started to move forward with confidence. I didn’t need to see or know all things, because He sees and knows all things.

I look at my now and think of how things were being orchestrated and organized to meet me right where I am. And I know its the same for all of us. The way is sometimes circuitous: there are delays, disturbances, distractions and mis-directions. Sometimes it seems we take the long route  when the journey could have been less challenging.

But there were important lessons to learn. Perhaps circumventing them would mean a longer journey. And so though the journey seems long, take your time. Be gentle with yourself and stop comparing yourself to those who are ahead of you. That is only a source of frustration. Be reminded ” The race is not for the swift nor the strong but for those who endure to the end”.

Stay the course and draw strength from your source. It’ll be worth it in the end.

 

I’m not buying what you’re selling

Our children are in trouble. And we’ve led them to it.

This morning I stepped into my class and had a long talk with my wards about the image they are selling to those who are evaluating them.

I had to speak to them about ‘impression management’, a term I coined when I lectured a course at a local university and had to create some content for them. Impression management, as I defined it,  is “actively managing or organizing behaviour in a sustained manner that would cause one to be evaluated as desired” (DSM, 2013). I explained to them that many persons engage in this practice without consciously organizing themselves but sub-consciously, since most of us want to ‘put our best foot forward’, we choose behaviours that would cause us to be viewed favourably.

Business entrepreneurs, media moguls, performers/ artists are just a few of the professionals that hire people to ‘market’ them successfully. Many of us tailor our image to suit whomever’s buying: your manager, the voting public, sometimes potential life partners.

The need arose to speak to them due to improper conduct that was observed at an event. There were several adults around, some of whom cheered on the ‘performances’, seemingly unaware of the message they were sending. I was taken aback, and sought to have a discussion with individuals within my area of responsibility, to address the ills that were seen. As I counselled my students, this occurred to me: these children are behaving as we have taught them to. A troubling thought for someone in my profession who sees manifestations of varied levels of conduct disorders, body dysmorphia and social pathology every single day, presenting in young people.

The fact is, the adults of this society are to be blamed. We complain about our children and the varied issues they have but it is us who create their world. As it came out in the discussion, we ‘sell’ them the sounds and images (music, videos, movies, magazines, books)that are rife with violent and high sexual content. Imagine a game where the dare is to ‘punch and knockout’ a total stranger (the old not excepted from this). No matter how much it is said that “There are parental controls on the internet and television”, our advertisements in magazines and television, on the billboards and flyers that is seen all around them are all filled with these images. We claim to try to protect them, but yet, every other image they see, created by adults, tells them something different.

They are confused. We tell our females about respecting their bodies and then create a world that glorifies the biggest ‘assets’ (insert____ here). We say ” You are beautifully and wonderfully made” then point out how great and perfect (whatever current pop artist, model, whomever) looks. We are teaching them that those individuals are the images we see when we say ‘Beautiful’ or ‘Handsome’. They proceed to compare themselves and of course, desire to look like that. Ever wonder why the cosmetics industry makes so much money? We tell our boys that females are to be treated in a particular way and yet create programs that promote promiscuity and label it “a reality show”.

Don’t be fooled that children don’t have access to content that we wouldn’t them viewing. I laugh sometimes that children seem to be born out of the womb, knowing how to use computers of every kind. Therefore, the adults of this world need to take responsibility for the future they are creating. We keep telling them one thing and doing another. It needs to stop being ‘Do as I say but not as I do’.  We need to stop playing ostrich and burying our head in the sand and exercise some control over ourselves for the sake of our children.  We already know what is out there. We need to do whatever it takes to create a world that allows a child to be a child, for as long as they are supposed to.

The world isn’t running away. Preserve their innocence, just a little while longer. Its only fair.